This is Son #3 at the beginning of the summer, pre-bangs debacle. And yes, this is his real mad face. Boy does not mess around!
Super Cuts is exactly the place you want your child to have a meltdown. Not only is everyone there holding sharp, pointy objects but the walls are lined with bottles of expensive goo and the floor is coated in hair. Best case scenario (and by best I mean worst): your kid will knock said bottles off the shelf, continue his tantrum by rolling around on the floor, stand up looking like a multi-hued Yeti and then bolt out into the parking lot because everyone is laughing hysterically at the kid dumb enough to lick the floor of a budget hair salon.
Which is how I ended up with one leg flung across my 7-year-old’s lap, effectively pinning him to the seat, sweating while I did my best Cirque-du-Soleil back bend trying to explain to the stylist standing behind me (and as far away from my sobbing son as possible) what to do for his back-to-school haircut. I was just trying to avoid the Yeti situation! I’d hate to make a scene.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to not tell you… I just, uh, just didn’t know what to say to you,” my friend said, tucking a soft blanket around her adorable chubby-cheeked infant. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to keep her warm or hide her from me.
“But why would you think I wouldn’t be happy for you?” I stammered, still thrown by the surprise of meeting what had been a very close friend who now had a baby I didn’t even know was coming.
“Well, because you… you know.”
I know. I know I had a miscarriage.
“How old is she?” I didn’t want to ask but I couldn’t help myself.
“Two months,” she answered. It felt like a punch to the gut but I tried not to show it.
I grinned my brightest grin and told her, honestly, “She’s marvelously perfect. Congratulations!”
I dread the day when this sweet little girl looks in the mirror and sees anything but a gorgeous miracle.
There comes a day in every girl’s life when she realizes that she is not the prettiest princess in the room. I’m not sure exactly when that day was for me but I know I was very young. Having a daughter myself, I can tell you that every girl is born into this world knowing she is the most gorgeous, amazing creature ever. Every body part, including her tummy, is just a body part and something to be examined (and possibly colored on) with delight. Jelly Bean is 4 years old and watching her frolic after bath time tonight assures me that she has not yet lost that fairy magic. But while some of us keep that wonder a bit longer than others – I think having parents who adore every inch of you helps – somewhere between babyhood and girlhood, it’s gone. Extinguished like a candle under a cup. The candle is still there of course but it no longer lights our way.
“I almost lost my son, once,” she tossed it out, as if she were saying something as casual as how’s the weather out there or socks are buy-one-get-one-free today. But the way she looked at me, darting glances away from her cash register, made me realize that it was meaningful to her. And how could it not be? As a mom who has lost her kids everywhere from the grocery store to the gym (twice) to preschool, I know how utterly terrifying that feeling is.
I opened my mouth to say something but then realized that I had exactly ten minutes to get Jelly Bean to her preschool and if I hurried through buying my few purchases and raced out to the car, we could still make it on time. I could just smile and nod and keep going. But then I remembered my list – the list I made at the beginning of December to help me be less depressed by helping others (hopefully) be less depressed. I’m almost down to the end, just a few left. And thanks to several astute suggestions from you guys, instead of tackling them one a day I’ve just tried to keep the list in my mind and if one of those opportunities arises then I jump on it. (But not literally. I did jump on a stranger once – in a crowded pool because I wasn’t wearing my contacts and he had on the same swim shorts as my brother – but that did not end well. I’ve tried never to do it again.) And one of the last items on my Operation Give a Little list was: Give someone a listen, everyone has a story to tell.
Our annual family photo shoot. Wearing blue and feeling blue – I feel a theme for 2013! Being depressed gives you an excuse to wear your emotions on your sleeve…literally. But really who can stay sad when I’ve got that hilarious little photo-bomber right above me?
My brain will always be broken. I know that. I gave up years ago trying to make myself be something I’m not. Depression runs deep in me – through my genes, through my history, through my heart. My family tree is a weeping willow. It is what it is. Sometimes its touch is so light I barely feel the shadow of it. But other times, like now, it pulls me under like a leaf on a river. Learning to accept the push and pull of my sadness is something I’m still working on. So believe me when I say I’m not trying to be glib or to minimize the very real pain and numbness that depression brings. But sometimes even I have to look up and realize how much good comes from bad.
What I love about being depressed:
The Andersen Family Halloween 2013: Son #3 (L) is Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, Son #1 (C) is an M&M (yes that’s a plastic snow sled hanging around his neck!), Son #2 (R) made his own “Stevie” costume from Minecraft (yep, he’s got a paper bag over his face but he came up with it all on his own so I give him props for creativity!) and Jelly Bean is a “pink princess fairy with pink wings pink pink piiiiiiink!” My husband is, um, a college student and I went as a girl who’s been in a deep funk and therefore hasn’t showered in three days and requires a hat to cover her greasy hair but just be glad she crawled out of bed ok?
This Halloween there’s a new monster scaring all the kids on the block: the ConcernTroll, i.e. a person who says really crappy things under the guise of “concern” for you. And this year’s concerntrolling is brought to you by a woman whom I can only hope is secretly a paid actress/instigator from Fargo, North Dakota, who has decided that instead of handing out treats to children she deems to be “moderately obese”, she’ll be sending a note home in their sad little treat-less bag. To their parents:
My favorite boys!
(Backstory: One on the right just won a trophy for his Pikachu pinewood derby car and the one on the left is having a meltdown because he didn’t win anything. It’s tough being the second child. Of course the third kid, on the far left, cared about nothing but the cake.)
Controversy is Chris Brown’s middle name. The rapper is a master of taking a bad situation and spinning it to look even worse. (Everyone remember the time he beat the crap out of then-girlfriend Rihanna? And then got a tattoo of her battered face on his neck?? Okay, good.) To say I’m not a fan would be an understatement. But this past week he gave an interview that made my heart break for him. He told The Guardian that he “lost his virginity” when he was eight years old to a 14- or 15- year old girl. (Not even going to put the full quote here as it kinda makes me want to barf. Feel free to click through to read it though.)
A scream: It’s not fair!
A surrender, a sigh: It’s not fair.
A realization: It’s not fair…
A cry: It. is. not. fair!
A complaint: It’s not faaaaiiiir.
An apology: It’s not fair.
A prayer; a whisper or a wail: It isn’t fair, Lord.
A question: Life – It’s not fair?
This last one, the question, breaks my heart. It is too much to ask of me. How can I know the answer? My human heart cracks under the weight of betrayal. Of weakness. Of illness and pain and suffering and mockery. But this question deserves an answer. And my son, who looks up at me with liquid eyes, deserves an answer. “Mommy, why are some people born rich and others are born poor?” It’s not what I had expected from the child who’d been fighting – with himself – over a ship built out of 4 Legos for the past hour. My other son answered him flippantly, most likely echoing something he’d heard me say, “Because life’s not fair.” Easy to say for someone who isn’t doing the suffering.
My Karate Kid: Out of all my children, this is the one that laughs the most. He’s also the one that cries the most. I understand that.
Tiny arms moving gracelessly through his first form, face a mask of concentration and trepidation, tongue poking out between his teeth, just like his mom; I watched the teacher watching him, trying to take the mother out of my eyes and failing. “I hate karate,” he had said as we walked into class. My heart was tight in my chest for him. It’s hard to be new. It’s hard to be unsure. It’s hard to be little. But most of all it’s hard to want nothing more than to be a great Karate master and have your limbs continuously betray you.
The Sensei paused in front of him – it felt like eons before he nodded, his twinkling eyes belying his strict mouth – and said, “You did well.”
Even though I was pretending to read my book, the 5-year-old drama eclipsed the one in the paperback and I watched my son’s small chest puff up in pride. The tightness in mine loosened. But then I saw it spark in my son’s eyes and I knew what he was going to say before the impish words left his mouth. “No I didn’t.”
Signed, a mom of four lego-loving cleaning-averse kids
People are so astonished when I tell them I have a 17-year-old sister that, I’ll admit it, I kind of like shocking them with that info. (Really I have so very few things I can use to shock people that if I have to rely on my mother’s atypical fecundity then so be it! It’s either that or haul out my extensive collection of creepy porcelain dolls. Don’t ask.) My mother was very young when she had me and I won’t say very old (just older?) when she had my sister K. She and I are 17.5 years apart. I watched her be born (which was seriously cool and not as weird as you’d think it would be) and was even the first to hold her as my dad was still hugging my mom. (That was the day I discovered newborns come out a very alien-esque purple with whiteish slime, not at all pink and cute like on the movies.)